It’s hard for brands to be able to react to situations in the marketplace. Most just aren’t set up to be nimble.
It’s a real challenge, because you miss some amazing opportunities. One great example I know of is from O2. A few years ago when over 140,000 of their customers were stranded by the ash cloud, their marketing team saw an opportunity to drive loyalty. They moved quickly to get the lead on their competitors. They invested heavily in the short term (loses massive amounts in roaming charges) to build loyalty in the long term. What did they do?
They offered all their stranded customers free texts for a week.
Simple, but the impact was huge. The buzz around the brand “did you hear what O2 are doing” was incredible. People who were on O2 loved them for it and those who weren’t on O2 wished they were, I mean after all this is a brand that cares about you.
Genius move that worked because they were nimble enough (and smart enough) to tap into something that was going on.
Someone that knows more than me is P&G’s Global Marketing and Brand Building Officer Marc Pritchard, and he says that marketing teams need to be set up like a newsroom, (an analogy which I love). In a piece on the brandgym blog he is quoted saying:
You have to be asking ‘what’s happened in the past 24 hours, how do we need to respond to it?
He says that
“You can still plan a lot – 80% of your activities – you just have to be ready for the unplanned activities.” This means having some budget and time allocated to be responsive. Pritchard gives the Olympics as an example: “We’re ready to see how our athletes do, ready to see how our brands do.”
He also says that you need to be able to move quickly when something isn’t working;
“I know if we put a YouTube video out there and it gets 7,000 hits in three days, it’s a pig! Take it down. Do something else.”
Of course you aren’t going to do this alone, your agency is central to this. So your relationship with them needs to be set up to allow this kind of thinking to thrive, not at the expense of your other requirements but in a way that amplifies and compliments them.
How are you set up to react and respond? If you aren’t are you set up to miss out?